Nolan Bushnell: Beats is a ‘good deal for Apple,’ but it says Apple is ‘not an innovative tech company’

Atari Founder Nolan Bushnell discusses his outlook for an AT&T, DirecTV merger and an Apple, Beats Electronics merger on Bloomberg Television’s “In The Loop.”

I think it is a good deal for Apple. But it really says, we are a brand company, we are a consumer electronics company. “We are not an innovative tech company.”

If you look at what Apple is, or has been, they have created remarkable products, and they get what I called the innovators bonus. The innovators bonus gives high margins, a lot of buzz, and a lot of market share, but as you lose it, if you go a long time, the followers come.

[That gets you] high-margins and rapid deployment. They went from nothing to a significant percentage — maybe now they need that big brand.

There’s nothing wrong with [with becoming a big brand]. It is just a different kind of company.

Direct link to video here.

MacDailyNews Take: Why can’t Apple be both innovative and also buy profitable companies?

Fun fact: In 1976, Steve Jobs asked Bushenll to invest in his company, Apple Computer, Inc. As recounted by Walter Isaacson in Steve Jobs, Nolan remarked, “Steve asked me if I would put $50,000 in and he would give me a third of the company. I was so smart, I said no. It’s kind of fun to think about that, when I’m not crying.”

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Curated music influencing Apple’s jump into streaming – May 13, 2014
Beats Music is actually so good that I’m worried about Apple ruining it – May 13, 2014
Apple could become most powerful record label in the world with Dr Dre, Jimmy Iovine onboard – May 13, 2014
Bob Lefsetz on Apple-Beats deal: Tim Cook is an operations guy, he’s clueless, and the company has no vision</a – May 13, 2014
Apple CEO Tim Cook makes break from managerial style of Steve Jobs – May 12, 2014
Analyst Sacconaghi on Apple buying Beats: ‘We struggle with the rationale for this deal’ – May 12, 2014
Cody Willard: Apple’s Beats buy is just stupid
– May 12, 2014
Apple may unveil Jimmy Iovine, Dr. Dre executive appointments at WWDC – May 12, 2014
Apple CEO Tim Cook’s pursuit of Beats seen presaging more takeovers – May 12, 2014
Former eMusic CEO explains why Apple wants to buy Beats – May 12, 2014
Apple’s deep ties with Jimmy Iovine key driver of Beats deal – May 12, 2014
Removal of Dr. Dre video about Apple-Beats deal likely means acquisition is real and imminent – May 10, 2014
Game changer: Apple buying Beats could radically transform the digital music business – May 9, 2014
If Beats deal happens, Apple is acquiring a fad, not quality, and that is troubling – May 9, 2014
If Apple’s really buying Beats, here’s hoping it’s brilliant in a way which isn’t immediately obvious – May 9, 2014
The reason for Apple’s $3.2 billion interest in Beats? Spotify – May 9, 2014
Apple buying Beats Electronics: Its best idea since the iPad? – May 9, 2014
Why would Apple want to blow $3.2 billion on Beats Electronics? – May 8, 2014
Apple in talks to buy Beats Electronics for $3.2 billion – May 8, 2014


  1. Love the fun fact! These “expert” analysts, by definition, should know what they are talking about. But time and time again, they come up looking like idiots when you examine their past predictions with regard to Apple. But they’re very consistent — I’ll give them that. So… if you want to know where Apple is heading, find out what Wall Street thinks, and bet on the opposite direction. That’s bound to make you very rich.

    1. Unfortunatly most people pay more attention to the talk than the actual walk!
      being a charismatic , eloquent sales person is ,more often than not , way more piwerful …. People just like to be told what to like. …few can actually see whats great on their own !

  2. Did apple never make an acquisition or purchase prior to this? Did Steve ever buy another company? Did Steve ever buy a company and use some aspect of their product or employees? Rhetorical questions for him.

  3. Bushnell is still crying, and apparently disingenuously bitter. Love these doo-dah impatient hair brained know nothing “experts”. They think the tech world is like the old Lenscrafter glasses ads “Paradigm busting innovation, in just about an hour.”

  4. A third of Apple now would be $170B. That doesn’t make me cry. It make me laugh out loud.

    By the way, for all you pre-judgmental types with underlying racial issues……..kind of along the lines of, a) black people can’t play tennis, their brains can’t process tennis skill’s, or b) Backs can’t be Quaterbacks, they need to “think”, or c) great business and tech visionaries could never be Syrian, or d) a music company built by Rapping Black guys could never bring anything worthwhile to “my Apple”……I say, sip a pure glass of water very slowly while contemplating on its hydrating powers on every cell of your body and then realize that…..
    —-The following copied from another site——
    “As with most things Apple the people who are paid the most money to follow Apple, report on Apple, give investors information on Apple, etc. are the last to know what’s really going on at Apple. The majority of “pundits” have been very negative on this deal. The have said “see, they can no long innovate”, “see they don’t know what to do with their money”, “it makes no sense, Beats isn’t even the best headset”, etc.
    A. Beats is an elite brand, an aspirational brand as is Apple
    B. Beats is a profitable company
    C. Beats dominates the high end headphones market (as does Apple in its’ segments)
    D. $3.2 Billion is nothing to Apple.
    E. Apple is getting a better deal than Google did for Nest or Facebook for Whatsapp
    F. Beats with Carplay is a slam dunk for Apple in the auto industry
    G. Talking heads are hardly ever right. In addition to A – F just being contray to the bashers means this is a great deal for Apple”

  5. I don’t have any quibbles with Nolan Bushnell. He is a smart guy who has advanced technology in several fields. Nolan is willing to own up to his mistakes.

  6. If only the ‘Beats’ headphones lived up to the hype. If Apple wanted a good headphone manufacturer they would buy Sennheiser. If they buy Beats, it is for something other than the headphones.

  7. So, if they buy Beats, then the beats headsets define the company, not the smartphone, not the tablet,not the desktop/laptop, not the OSes or any software. The headsets. Got it. It’s all clear now. Start selling iPads at Woolworths.

  8. This turd really doesn’t know anything and has no right to comment on Apple. Which company came out with the most innovative MP3 player? Apple. Which company came out with the most innovative smart phone? Apple. Which company came out with most innovative tablet computer? Apple. So Bush, you were wrong not to invest in Apple and you are wrong about Apple as an innovative company. So why should anyone care about what you have to say?

  9. I think it’s true. Apple is not the biggest innovator in tech, but it’s not about inventing a wheel again, it’s about to make the best wheel.
    It’s in the details, those small things, which makes user experience to another level. 🙂

  10. I can see why the a Beats thing gets people stirred up. It is hard to wrap your head around. This is not like Apple buying a display technology or securing a license for metallic glass. This is not a product or technology acquisition that can be measured in pixels or megabits. This is about plugging into access to millions of customers with some form of communication that is proven to be successful. Hard for me to understand so I just trust that the guys at 1 Infinite Loop have done their due diligence.

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